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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cappadocia - Region of Rocks

Cappadocia is a region in Central Anatolia in Turkey, largely in Nevsehir Province. It is best known for its sole moon-like landscape, underground cities, cave churches and houses carved in rocks. It is an international tourist destination, to define a region of exceptional natural wonders, in particular characterized by fairy chimneys and a unique geological, historical and cultural heritage.

Cappadocia was surrounded in the south by Mount Taurus, to the east by Euphrates, to the north by Pontus, and to the west by Lake Tuz, in Central Anatolia. But Strabo, the only ancient author to provide a major account of the area, may have greatly exaggerated its dimensions. It is now believed that Cappadocia realistically was limited to an area stretching 400 km/250 miles east-west and 200 km/120 miles north-south. The region is located southwest of the major city Kayseri, which has airline and railroad service to Ankara and Istanbul.

The Cappadocia region is largely underlain by sedimentary rocks formed in lakes and streams, and deposits exploded from prehistoric volcanoes approximately 1 to 3 million years ago, during late Miocene to Pliocene epochs. A soft tuff layer was formed, 150 m in thickness, by issuing lavas in the valley surrounded by mountains. The rivers, flood water running down the hillsides of valleys and strong winds eroded the geological formations with tuff layers, thus creating bizarre shapes called fairy Chimneys. These take on the names of mushroom shaped, pinnacled, capped and conic shaped formations.

The rocks of Cappadocia near Goreme eroded into hundreds of spectacular pillars and minaret-like forms. The volcanic dumps are soft rocks so that the people of villages at the heart of the Cappadocia Region carved out to form houses, churches and monasteries. Goreme became a monastic center between 300-1200 AD.


The ancient settlements of the region are Koskhoyuk or Kosk Mound in Nigde, Aksaray Asikli Mound, Nevsehir Civelek cave and in the southeast Kultepe, Kanis and Alisar in the surroundings of Kayseri. The region was regarded as sacred and called, in the Scythian/khatti language "Khepatukha" meaning "the Country of the People of the Chief God Hepat". The tablets called Cappadocia Tablets and the Hittite works of painting in Alisar are vital remains dating from 2000 B.C.

The first period of settlement in Goreme goes back to the Roman period. The Yusuf Koc, Ortahane, Durmus Kadir and Bezirhane churches in Goreme, houses and churches carved into rocks in the Uzundere, Bagildere and Zemi Valleys are all carriers of history that we can see today. The Goreme Open Air Museum is the most visited site of the monastic communities in Cappadocia and is one of the most famous sites in central Turkey. The complex contains more than 30 rock-carved churches and chapels, some of them have superb frescoes inside, dating from the 9th to the 11th centuries.

Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Tours are one of the popular in Goreme. Starting at sunrise, these rides last around 45 minutes and go anywhere the wind may blow in the Valley. The balloon carry nearly ten people with the pilot riding air currents like a boat, floating down the valleys, below the ridge line and quite close to the chimney rocks. It's a nice ride and if you ever had the urge to balloon ride, this is the place to do it. Balloon Tours are available to Cappadocia Hot Air, Goreme, Kapadokya and Anatolian.

Kayseri, one of the cities in Turkey, is an hour drive from Goreme. Kayseri Airport welcomes flights from Izmir and Istanbul every day of the week.Kayseri is on a busy railway route. It is possible to find suitable trains to Kayseri from almost all the train stations of Turkey. From Kayseri, you can take bus to go to Goreme. The bus services are available to Nevsehir and Goreme. By bus Istanbul-12 hours, Ankara-5 hours, Bursa-11 hours, Izmir-12 hours, Konya -4 hours.

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